Many people associate a vegan lifestyle primarily with a diet that is free of animal components: no meat, no fish, no eggs and no dairy products. In fact, veganism means more than that. Anyone who really lives vegan does not use any products with animal origin. In addition to nutrition, this includes other major areas of our lives, such as vegan cosmetics, vegan home & decor and vegan fashion.
Being completely vegan is not that easy
This does not mean the sometimes limited availability of vegan alternatives or the pressure to explain yourself to your family and friends. Instead, the point is that as an average consumer, it can be difficult to make an informed purchasing decision. Sometimes it is simple:
- Meatball sandwiches, fur coat and leather couch - NO
- Carrots, linen shirt and wooden spoon - YES
But in between there are many products that are difficult to tell if they contain animal ingredients.
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In the food area, the list of ingredients gives a very good overview of everything that can be found in the product. But not every detail of the production can be seen in this list. For example, there is no indication on commercially available wine bottles that animal proteins such as egg white, fish bladders or gelatine are used in the clarification process of wine production. Outside of the food sector, however, it is even harder to figure out.
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For example, only a minority of consumers can make sense of the Latin ingredient lists of cosmetic products. If glycerin, lanolin, keratin, collagen, shellac or elastin appear there without a credible seal of approval explicitly confirming that the product is vegan, then you are almost certainly holding a cream or lotion with animal ingredients in your hand. Probably it contains "beautiful" ingredients like ground bones, tendons, hooves, cockscombs or sebum secretion from sheep and cattle. Yikes!!
Vegan lifestyle is only possible with a comittment to vegan fashion
In fashion, natural materials are in high demand and valued a lot, while synthetic materials are often considered inferior. But as usual, it is worth taking a closer, more differentiated look at the situation. There are now numerous synthetic fabrics in the vegan fashion sector that are in no way inferior to natural materials in terms of appearance and comfort and are sometimes even superior to them. One example of this is modern functional materials. Also, not all natural fabrics are automatically eco-friendly or ethical. The cultivation of cotton, for example, uses a lot of water. From an ethical point of view, however, the animal materials in particular are problematic. Vegan fashion completely passes on fur, leather, wool and silk, which unfortunately still have the image of glamour, extravagance and quality. But little by little, more and more consumers and brands are actively deciding against these products. Because the luxurious appearance cannot be separated from cruel animal suffering.
Fur is a big no no - in any scenario
The perception of the fur industry has significantly changed lot over the past 30 years. Furs have largely lost their reputation as a status symbol. Anyone who goes out on the street with a fur coat these days must expect to come home with paint stains, disapproving looks and shaming comments. The images of cute minks having their fur pulled over their ears in Russian factories for coats and muffs have apparently found their way into society's consciousness through numerous campaigns.
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Nevertheless, the fur industry is doing well and vegan fashion is far from being the norm. Although fewer full fur coats are worn, fur-trimmed jackets, hats and accessories are still popular. Here a funny pompom made of rabbit, there a plush collar made of fox. The argument that rabbits and foxes are a nuisance anyway is weak given the fact that most of the skins used for fashion are not sold to the fashion groups by the ranger next door. Instead, they are mostly bought in low-wage countries, where the production takes place under circumstances that are difficult to trace (Zeit).
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Leather is stripped animal skin
This is shocking news! Well not really. Nevertheless, the awareness of the problem in the leather sector is far from being as pronounced as in the case of fur. The situation is almost identical. It is skin that humans forcefully take from animals. One version still has hair on it, the other doesn't. Those who defend the use of leather often argue that it is only a by-product of the meat industry. But just because the thankless job of torturing animals is already being done by its filthy industry sibling doesn't make things any better. Theoretically, the meat industry could also argue that meat is a by-product of the leather industry. No matter how you twist and turn it: Leather is and remains simply the skin of a dead animal that did not give it to us voluntarily and that in most cases had a gruesome life. And for what? So that people can treat themselves to a third pair of white leather sneakers and a fancy beef tartare. Is this okay? Rather not. So if you don't want to be a part of this, you should avoid leather completely and stick with vegan fashion.
Silk kills its producers
The fact that silk is an animal product is not immediately apparent to many when they think of veganism and fashion. And even if it is - the knowledge of silk production rarely goes beyond the fact that silk is made by silkworm larvae. That sounds harmless at first. But it is not. In fact, 15 silkworms have to die for 1 gram of silk. To harvest their threads, they are cooked alive in their own cocoons which they have spun for themselves to mature into butterflies in peace. After that, the "intact" - i.e. unbroken cocoon - is processed further.
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According to Peta 1.9 trillion silkworms were killed for silk production in 2019. Many people have little sympathy for insects and reptiles. But even these creatures, which are very strange to us because we do not understand their (body) language and they do not show any facial expressions, do feel pain and have a will to live. So the agony of countless caterpillars for a shiny silk blouse is real.
Even wool does not deserve its friendly image
Vegan fashion is also not compatible with the processing of wool. Wool enjoys an excellent reputation: warm, dirt and odor repellent, of natural origin and the sheep that wander all day long over green juicy land need shearing anyway. Right? Actually - No.
- First, no naturally occurring animal species is in any way dependent on human help. The shearing of sheep is only necessary because the animals were bred to lose their natural capability to shed hair.
- And secondly, the image of the happy sheep in the pasture for industrial wool products is also misleading. What happens in the mass production of wool is actually quite cruel.
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Animal suffering for better wool quality
Above all, the practices of mulesing and sheep dipping should be mentioned. With mulesing, plate-sized pieces of flesh around the anus are cut away from the animals. The (non)sense behind it: the creation of smooth scar tissue, where fewer faeces and urine residues can get caught. The fact that this is a problem at all is again human made. It's because sheep are bred with extra skin folds for wool production (a lot of skin = a lot of wool), that the excessive soiling on the rear part comes about in the first place. Mulesing is extremely painful for the animals because it is usually practiced without anesthetic and wound care. This practice is already banned in the EU and in New Zealand. But in Australia, one of the main exporters of wool, this practice is still allowed.
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Sheep Dipping is the name of another spooky procedure in which sheep are dipped from head to toe (hoof) in a chemical bath full of pesticides. This is to protect the wool from fungi and parasites. And also when shearing, many animals are injured. Workers are paid per sheep sheared. The handling of the animals is correspondingly rough and many suffer cut injuries. When sheep have had their day in wool production, they go to the slaughterhouse. At best, it is not far away, but the animals are often transported many kilometers, for example to the Middle East, while they are still alive. They are tightly cooped up, get neither water nor food and arrive at their destination either half or even completely dead. (Peta)
Unfortunately, other types of wool are not better. If you want to know more about how the fur of living rabbits in China is pulled out of the living creature for super soft Angora wool, you can check out the Peta website. There is also a new yarn on the market that uses combed-out dog hair. The general idea that this combines dog grooming with ethical wool is appealing at first glance. Where this leads to with increasing demand, everyone can now imagine for themselves - just think along the common lines of #massproduction and #torturebreeding. Anyone who cares about the well-being of animals cannot avoid vegan fashion.
No matter what we do, depending on which angle we look at it, there is something wrong with almost everything. Meat is unethical and bad for the climate, soy cultivation damages the rainforest, dietary supplements are highly processed astronaut food, vegetables are contaminated with pollutants, contain too much or too little of any substance, sweets contain no vitamins, apples have too much fructose, dirt makes you ill, disinfecting makes you sick, quitting a job you don't love is risky, keeping a job you don't love is cowardly... and so on.
Applied to the clothing industry, there are problem areas such as animal welfare, social justice, climate protection, biodiversity, water consumption, water quality and fossil raw materials. Overseeing and operating all of them at the same time is a colossal task. In order to not be paralyzed by complexity and whataboutism, we decided for our label that we should keep an eye on sustainability factors such as climate impact, species protection and social justice, but that our focus should initially be on avoiding direct suffering for people and animals. That's why we commit ourselves to only offering 100% vegan fashion. In order to ensure that no people are harmed by the production of our products, we exclusively have them manufactured in the EU and check the production sites with our own eyes before commissioning our service providers.
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You send signals - pay attention which ones
Finally, a thought aimed at everyone who wants to continue wearing the fur hats, leather jackets, silk blouses and wool sweaters they already own. The decision to do this is a decision FOR animal cruelty. Of course, the garment has already been produced and bought and the animal has died irretrievably. But as soon as other people can see us, we also send a signal with our clothes. If we wear super comfy sweatpants, we may signal that we have a need to snuggle up, if we wear an expensive evening gown or tuxedo, we let those around us know that there is something to celebrate or that we want to impress someone. And if we wear wool, fur, silk or leather, then we are saying that we think these materials are okay to buy. How long we have owned an item already and who has maybe worn it before - that is information that we do not give to the outside world. Conclusion: If you wear Grandma Erna's mink, then for outsiders you are primarily someone who wears fur and not someone who appreciates second-hand clothing. Asking why it matters what other people think? Because we humans are social beings who are heavily influenced by the behavior of our peers. So pay attention to what you tell your environment non-verbally about your attitudes.
If you think that human vanity, ego and laziness are not good reasons for the systematic and torturous exploitation of animals, then set your signal in favor of vegan fashion. If you have read this far and now realize that you want to replace your leather slippers, then feel free to take a look at our online shop. Happy, cool and minimalistic vegan slippers with an anatomically shaped footbed are waiting for you there.
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